I've been working on a system I call "cues". First, I'll introduce the system itself, then talk about why it's written the way it is, and some possible ways to use it.
Update: For various reasons, instead of using my own forum software, I've created a Google+ Community for discussing the game.
A couple of groups have already playtested Inept Sorcerers and the feedback was apparently good! Based on that, I am moving forward to gussy it up a bit - adding art, doing better layout, and so forth.
If you are interested in discussing the game, I've got a new phpBB forum installed here: http://forum.astralfrontier.org/
Register for an account - it'll require you to follow an activation link sent via email - and let me know what you think of the game, what you'd like it to do, or anything else.
Writing the long-delayed, much-changed Vessels game has led me back, again and again, to the model used by Apocalypse World and Dungeon World: "moves".
In short, a move is a piece of mechanics that embeds itself into the ongoing stream of fiction. "When X happens during the storytelling part, rule Y asserts itself." Usually this is a simple roll-to-succeed situation, where success means you get to proceed as though X worked out, failure means X doesn't, and somewhere in the middle is X working out but with contingent condition Z tacked on. "When I throw a grenade, I either blow up the other guy, blow myself up, or blow up the other guy but get shot by his buddies" is an example of this success-fail-complicate triad.
I've been thinking more about the new dice mechanic. In some games, players can (a few times a session) have their characters go above and beyond their normal abilities for a desperate, risky, or effective super-move. How would this system accommodate that? There's a few possibilities.
I posted a new dice mechanic recently. I explained the mechanics, and in doing so found a better version of the same idea. Thanks to Lester Ward for feedback confirming this conclusion. However, I didn't really articulate its intended purpose.
Aside from novelty, what does this system bring to the table? It brings risk, reward, and possibility. Long conversations with Gray Pawn about success and failure in games got me thinking, and this system was the result of one of those thoughts. Reading gamer war stories like Sameo (warning: rest of 1d4chan is NSFW) reminded me that spectacular failures could still be exciting. Fate taught me that doling out excitement can be safely put, at least partly, in the hands of the players.
In the new system, anyone can technically attempt anything. Nothing stops you from accumulating dice to pay off a high Action Cost. At the end of the day, high skill doesn't give you more opportunities, it just prevents more things from going badly. There's a gatekeeper, of course: if the GM doesn't think you get to make the roll at all, you don't. The bespectacled professor isn't going to lift a 10-ton rock off his crushed car, unless he also has superpowers.